Taking Pride in ANZ Pride – Kaiju

Journalist, Podcaster, Streamer and founder of Digital Diversity

Today’s Pride in ANZ Pride is from a big name in local queer activist groups and founder of an online diversity project, aptly titled Digital Diversity. Through their hard work, they continue to make ANZ queer voices louder and promote opportunities!

Twitter | Digital Diversity | Website What’s it like being LGBTQIA+ in ANZ games industry in 2020?
Kaiju: It’s a real mixed bag being part of the LGBTQIA+ community in the games industry here in ANZ. Broadly speaking it’s a positive space within the community itself, with lots of support. Unfortunately it’s also almost totally overlooked by the industry at large. There aren’t any large, diversity-specific initiatives set up to help queer folx progress in the industry, and even fewer that will speak up publicly in support to deal with the toxicity that is so prevalent in the industry at large. And of course with any large community that hopes to be an umbrella group for many smaller groups it’s not without its share of internal problems. We’re all doing our best, ya know?
GTG: How does what you make contribute to queer ANZs landscape?
Kaiju: My project, Digital Diversity, aims to bring awareness to the voices that make up the LGBTQIA+ game development community. To help raise up developers , due to their lack of industry experience, or the kind of content they make, so that they can gain some recognition & confidence about their work. I’ve been running it for over two years now and I like to think it’s helped at least a few folx feel proud of what they do and helped them to find their audience.


GTG: How do you bring your queerness into your content?
Kaiju: Haha, most of my content is at least tangentially about my queerness. My most consistent streaming events over the last 2 years have been all queer focused, almost all of my games journalism has been either in support of LGBTQIA+ representation or my own experiences, and my only complete game thus far is about my experiences as a nonbinary person. It’s my queerness that has fueled my drive to be heard and help others be heard.

GTG: What would you change about the ANZ scene?
Kaiju: Firstly I’d start by elevating more marginalised folx into positions where they can be heard in the industry, Far too much of what happens in the industry is decided by white cishet abled men, and that shows in how decisions are made for us all.

From there I’d start providing direct funding to small queer games studios. While there are some grant programs around for small indie studios this rarely goes towards groups making queer-positive representation. Smaller grants, spread among more projects would help develop new projects and instill confidence in a lot of folx who are nervous about their place in the industry.

I’d also bring back diversity-focused game events. GaymerX 2017 was important to a lot of people, myself included. And I really want to see more initiatives like that.

GTG: Can you tell us a little about the history of Digital Diversity and what it’s all about? 
Kaiju: Digital Diversity sprung up from a drive to see greater representation of queer creators in the industry. Back in 2017, after GXAus and I’d come to terms with who I was, it was more than obvious how little marginalised game developers, especially queer developers, were talked about in games media. If it ever happened it came out as tabloid journalism, shock pieces torn apart immediately by the mainstream.
I wanted to do something about that.

So in 2017, when I was just novice streamer I added a day to my schedule that was all games by or about queer folx. Queer It Up Sundays. Looking back it was a bit naive of me to try something like that without any real community support, but the passion was there and a lot of wonderful folx joined me for that part of the journey and I still think of good friends today.
Within 6 months I’d decided that was something real that I wanted to do, but not just as a stream that would never get a high audience (as niche streamers rarely get much attention), I wanted to do something bigger with it in a way that would last longer than however long Twitch would keep up my videos.
On 31st of March 2018, International Transgender Day of Visibility, the Digital Diversity project hatched. My first blog entry went up, part interview/part review of The Trans Zone by PewkaPew & YoShellShellAfter that things just kind of spiralled.
The streams kept happening, this time under the Digital Diversity banner instead of part of my regular streaming schedule. After I’d played something I’d contact the devs and do an interview if they were up for it, I’d do a little review to go along with it and it went like that for a while.

By October of that same year I’d realised something important, and that probably should have been obvious. The games were just a secondary part of what the project was all about, what I really cared about was the voices behind it. So I ditched the review portion and started diving right into the interviews. After all, the devs could talk more  concisely about the game was about than I could.Dozens of games and about 30 interviews later I decided it was time to do that podcast I always wanted to try and make. So I contacted @timepatches, who had made one of my favourite games, When Aster Falls, to do a bit of art for the podcast. Then it struck me while I was rehearsing the first solo script: why the heck was I doing this alone? So I asked Madi if they wanted to share their passion & energy to help make the podcast. Now we have a podcast, regular streams & interviews, and a discord for queer devs who need a safe space in the world. I never imagined it could get this big a deal, but I think it’s doing a little bit of good for folx who don’t often get seen or heard.

Now I’m at that point where I’m considering what to do with the project: there’s so many games being made every year there’s no way I could cover them all. So I’d love to start bringing on new voices to write for Digital Diversity & help get those voices heard. Long term it would also be wonderful to be able to raise money to provide small grants to the community, as the seemingly smallest financial hurdles can stop a studio from getting their game out there, but that would require a level of community support beyond what I can imagine right now.

GTG: What would you say to a young queer person who wants to do what you do?
Kaiju: Be prepared to shout a lot about what you believe in & push back against people who don’t want to change the status quo. You’ll encounter a lot of people out there who don’t want to acknowledge their privilege & fight against anything different. Be louder, be prouder, show that you won’t back down. Oh, and get your self-care toolkit together, you’ll need it.

GTG: Your favourite queer gaming moment?
Kaiju: That’s a tough one. For the project I’d say launching the Digital Diversity Podcast. That day the project became more than just me, and we had a new way to make more voices heard. Personally I’d say getting to run the queer games panels at PAXAUS. Being up there with some of the loudest & proudest queer voices in the industry who are doing their best to make positive change, and talking to hundreds of people about the issues that matter in terms of representation in gaming was the most powerful moment for my queer gaming career.

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